Today’s Editorial May 01: No time for safe politicking

At a Chamber of Commerce District Candidates’ Forum last week, George Town hopeful Alfonso Wright took opponent Mike Adam to task for not disclosing his views on the draft constitution.

In responding to Mr. Adam’s contention that the views on the proposed constitution were private and personal decisions, Mr. Wright said candidates for government should direct the people as to what they should do because that is why they are elected.

We agree that candidates should not practice safe politicking by declining to offer their opinion on something as important to this country as the constitution. The voters of the Cayman Islands deserve to know where the candidates stand on all important issues.

The constitution issue is no more a private and personal decision for candidates than their views on the economy, crime, education, tourism or any of the other critical challenges facing this country. Since the constitution, if passed in the referendum later this month, will likely become the law of the land indefinitely, we could argue that it is even more important to know the candidates’ views on this subject.

To their credit, many other candidates have declared where they stand. At another Chamber forum this week, all four candidates not only expressed their views on the issue, they explained why they felt the way they did.

One of those candidates, Bo Miller, expressed disappointment that the referendum was being held at the same time as the general elections. He felt it would have been better to hold the referendum a while after the general elections – possibly even on Constitution Day in July – to allow the dust to settle from all the politicking.

Unfortunately, because the referendum is being held at the same time as the general elections, it has become a political issue. Every one of the People’s Progressive Movement candidates support it and all the United Democratic Party candidates either don’t support it or won’t say if they do or don’t.

As a result, the referendum has simultaneously become a mandate on the People’s Progressive Movement. If people are satisfied with the PPM’s performance, they are probably more likely to vote in favour of the draft constitution. If they are unsatisfied, they are probably more likely to vote against the draft constitution.

It is unfortunate that the supreme law of the land has thus become an election-campaign football in a game that has so much more at stake than political careers. But since the game is on, it is not fair to the voters for some candidates to be content to stand on the sidelines without entering the fray.